Is Chic Murray outdoor arena slated for demolition in 2021 without public notification or consultation??
Chic Murray is known as one of the best outdoor ice rinks in the entire GTA. It has a superior ice pad and a covered roof which allows for outdoor skating in most weather conditions. It was put in at considerable cost in 2004 and has been in constant use ever since. It is highly treasured, extremely rare and very valuable for a number of reasons.
Located centrally in a densely populated area of Mississauga, this extremely popular facility has given residents the opportunity to enjoy a fresh air activity at reasonable cost. The roof structure allows skaters to enjoy the rink even in inclement weather for most of the winter. In addition to providing beneficial exercise and exposure to fresh air and sunlight, which helps to keep residents happy and healthy, it also allows skaters to meet up with friends, family and neighbours for a fun skate or a game of pick-up hockey. In other words, the arena promotes physical as well as mental well-being and healthy communities during winter months. This is especially important for town house and apartment dwellers whose outdoor recreation options are limited in the winter.
What is the reason for this demolition? The Chic Murray arena is one of two outdoor arenas in Mississauga. It is an in-demand outdoor winter facility whose loss would be keenly felt. It is irreplaceable. Covid 19 has had a devastating impact on the City’s budget which the taxpayer will be paying for many years to come. Perhaps the City can figure out a plan to incorporate the Arena into its new proposed development. Demolishing and then re-building the arena elsewhere seems to be a huge waste of the taxpayers’ dollar.
Mississauga Residents’ Association Network (MIRANET) is gravely concerned by methods employed by the Provincial government to circumvent public consultation on the proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act, outlined in Schedule 6 of Bill 229. By sneaking Schedule 6 into omnibus budget measures Bill 229, the Province is demonstrating a lack of respect for the public, conservation authorities, municipalities, and democracy.
The entirety of Schedule 6 displays a lack of scientific literacy and calls the Provincial government’s judgment into question. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s failure to recognize the limits of its own expertise has resulted in a document that runs counter to the promises of their political platform in the 2018 election. Instead of less red tape, we get more bureaucracy; instead of shorter permit approval times, we get longer; instead of clarity and transparency, we get chaos and confusion; instead of benefitting the many, it benefits the few; instead of strengthening the conservation authorities’ ability to protect and preserve our watersheds for present and future generations, it ties their hands and diminishes their power.
Schedule 6 has no place in Bill 229.
Proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act would authorize the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry to issue an order to take over and decide a development permit application in place of a conservation authority. Additionally, a permit applicant can request that the Minister review a conservation authority’s decision about a permit application (approved with conditions or denied), at which point the Minister can make any decision, including issuing a permit. (https://cvc.ca/conversations/conservation-matters)
In the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Ford has repeatedly stated that he is guided by the advice of Public Health officials as he is not a scientist and they are the experts. The same reasoning should hold true for the management of our natural resources, particularly within the watersheds that sustain us. Do we believe that the judgment of a political appointee, with little to no scientific literacy and no understanding of how watersheds work, should replace that of an expert whose decisions are guided by science and best practices?
The scientists, engineers, and technicians responsible for the management of our watersheds collect and analyze data to use in decision-making and the development of future management plans. This information is also used to assess the efficacy of ongoing programs and correct course as necessary. These experts must demonstrate the logic of their thinking to both the public and their fellow scientists. The success or failure of their decisions can be measured by numbers and statistics, which can be made available for public scrutiny. As such, their decision-making processes are far more robust and transparent than those of the Provincial government.
We expect the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry to make objective and transparent decisions that ensure the long-term health of our watersheds for us and future generations; however, history has shown that politicians are less than objective and transparent in their decision-making, as they bend to the will of their political leaders and their own agendas for re-election. Do we as Ontarians believe this is transparent and effective governance?
The proposed changes may also lead to unintended consequences, resulting in additional costs and more red tape:
If the Minister of Natural Resources steps in to review an application (either at the request of the permit applicant or at the Minister’s discretion) another level of bureaucracy is added to the permit application process.
The deadline for a ministerial decision is thirty (30) days, in which time the applicant may either receive a decision or no communication at all, an indication that the Minister has declined to review the application. What remains unclear, however, is who will actually be conducting the review. Will additional staff need to be hired to complete the review and advise the Minister? Will these staffers be political appointees or will they be subject matter experts?
If the Ministry hires subject matter experts whose decisions are based on science, and therefore apolitical, does this not mean their decisions will be similar, if not identical, to those of the conservation authority? Is this not a duplication of services, loathed by the Premier, who promised to cut costs and red tape? The Ford government voted Bill 108 into law, ostensibly to reduce bureaucracy and permit approval times. These proposed changes will introduce more red tape, increase wait times for permit approval, and increase costs for both the developer and the provincial government.No mention has been made how these additional positions will be funded.
If the Ministry hires political appointees to conduct these reviews and their decisions differ dramatically from those of the conservation authority and other subject matter experts, in the absence of any publically available written justification, can we then assume that the science has been ignored? In such cases, is it fair for affected stakeholders (neighbouring landowners, municipalities, and watersheds) to assume the burden of environmental and economic risks resulting from such decisions? How will the Province compensate watershed residents if their decisions result in harm to their health and/or livelihoods? Why should tax-payers foot the bill for poor decision-making?
How will development charges be negotiated – as part of the review process or will this still be done at the Municipal level? At what point in the process will this take place? Will the Ministry decide to circumvent all municipal level negotiation and decision-making? If this is the case, will the Ministry then take on the financial liability associated with overseeing the development charge repayment schedule?
What will happen to the public consultation process? If developers can get a second hearing at the ministerial level, why does the same not apply to conservation authorities and the public? Why are developers given greater consideration? If not the conservation authority, who speaks for the residents of a watershed? Can a system in which the wealthy and powerful get preferential treatment, and all others are treated as second class citizens, be considered just?
What about impacts to project financing? In an effort to adapt to the new challenges posed by climate change, banks have changed their lending practices to assess not just financial risk, but also environmental and social risk. In the absence of a permit approval from the scientists and engineers employed by the conservation authority, it is now the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry who will grant this permit.
If the conservation authority has already conducted its assessment and declined the application, how will this be interpreted by a potential lender? Will the assessment of the conservation authority be made available to the bank free of charge or does it remain their intellectual property, since they do not receive funding from the Province? Does the Province have the authority to confiscate the research of the conservation authority and do with it what it wishes?
Banks are not charities and have a fiduciary obligation to their shareholders to minimize risk and maximize return. If the bank is aware of the potential environmental and social risks posed by the project, what is the likelihood that they will approve such a loan?
In the absence of a risk assessment from either the conservation authority or the Ministry (because it has exercised its new right to step in and shut down the permitting process) who bears the costs of risk assessment?
Is it the Ministry? If so, how will they maintain their thirty (30) day timeline for approval? Will they have to hire subject matter experts (if they have not already done so)?
Is it the developer? In which case, how will they finance such an expensive undertaking? Will this be an obstacle to individuals and small-scale developers and preclude them from participating in the market? Will this mean that only those development companies with deep pockets and influence will survive and thrive?
Is it the bank? Since this is an unlikely scenario, what is the eventual outcome of the Province’s ill-conceived changes to the Conservation Authority Act: more bureaucracy; long wait times; attrition of individuals and small development companies; assumption of financial, environmental, and social risks by municipalities; and a permitting regime where chaos and confusion are the order of the day?
Have we not learned from the COVID-19 pandemic in which the Ford government ignored the advice of medical and other experts? Their mismanagement had direct consequences: further spread of the virus, continued economic uncertainty, an escalating death count, and more families grieving the loss of loved ones. If the current Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry demonstrates the same zeal and competence as his colleagues in the portfolios of Health and Long-Term Care, rejecting the data, evidence and counsel of scientists and ignoring best practice in favour of political decision-making, we as a province will be taking a giant step backward. This is regressive not progressive!
Proposed changes would remove the un-proclaimed provision for conservation authorities to issue stop work orders, a new tool in our enforcement toolbox that we had long requested from the province. This tool will provide the ability to stop significant threats to life, property and environmentally sensitive areas before having to resort to costly fines and prosecution. (https://cvc.ca/conversations/conservation-matters)
Conservation authorities have fought for and won the provision to enforce stop work orders and are uniquely qualified to put such tools to good use. The ability to issue stop work orders allows them to limit potential damage before it is too late. Costly fines and prosecution are all well and good but if irreparable damage has been done to the watershed there is no going back. Conservation authorities make these decisions based on scientific evidence as well as best practices in watershed management. These tools are never used unless absolutely necessary. This provision must remain, removing it is effectively tying the hands of conservation authorities.
The Credit Valley Conservation Board acts on behalf of the watershed and residents to ensure good corporate operations, management, and governance. Proposed changes would direct board members to act only on behalf of the municipality they represent, rather than on behalf of the entire watershed and residents. This is contrary to proper board governance and contradicts recent recommendations by Ontario’s Auditor General. (https://cvc.ca/conversations/conservation-matters)
The direction to conservation authority board members to act only on behalf of the municipality they represent is frankly baffling; most people understand the need for holistic management of our natural resources. The fact that our government doesn’t is shocking: the absence of even the most rudimentary understanding of how our ecosystems function demonstrates their lack of intellectual fitness for this job. They can be forgiven their lack of knowledge, one can’t be expected to know everything; but faced with the challenge of revising the Conservation Authority Act, instead of addressing their knowledge deficits they blithely proceeded to propose legislation (with very limited public consultation) which would take us back almost seventy (70) years. Such willful ignorance and hubris is unforgiveable in a public servant, let alone an entire Ministry.
Watershed management requires decision making beyond the confines of just one municipality; nature does not respect municipal boundaries. Poor decision making in one municipality has the potential to create irreversible damage elsewhere within the watershed. Potential harms include: flooding, groundwater contamination, excessive groundwater pumping leading to lower water tables and land subsidence, slope destabilization, increased surface water run-off, flow path alteration for both ground and surface waters, silting up of rivers and streams, drier soils more prone to erosion, and loss of wetlands.
Good resource management practices require a holistic point of view: water and air are shared resources, not just between residents of a municipality but between everyone. The wild fires in California, Oregon, and Washington State are a case in point: they affected air quality across Canada, not just in neighbouring British Columbia, which at one point had the worst air quality in the world. Particulates from fires in California had direct impacts on Canadians: both the healthy, who were advised to remain indoors to reduce their exposure, and the ill, particularly those with asthma and lung diseases, who may have found themselves struggling to breathe under those conditions for weeks at a time.
Similar to forest fires, the impacts of wetlands go far beyond their watersheds. They are invaluable in the fight against climate change: wetlands are a sink for atmospheric carbon. But this is not all they do. Wetlands perform the vital services of water purification, groundwater recharge and stream-flow maintenance, and shoreline stabilization. They also provide food and habitat for both terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna. In some cases, they are the last refuge for rare and endangered species. By preserving, instead of developing wetlands in Durham Region, we can ensure that they will continue to perform these vital services, not just for the people of Pickering, but for the people of Southern Ontario and beyond.
Some of the proposed changes to the composition of the conservation authority board as well as its functioning are particularly troubling:
The term of the Chair or Vice Chair is limited to one year and to no more than two consecutive terms. While term limits can have a positive effect on governance, particularly at Provincial and Federal levels, it may not have the same effect in a conservation authority. Any incoming Chair or Vice Chair will most likely not be a subject matter expert and thus have a steep learning curve during the first six months or year of their term. Upon achieving a sufficient level of knowledge, they should be allowed to put this newly acquired knowledge and experience to good use. Rotating Chairs out on an annual basis is disruptive and highly inefficient. Each incoming Chair would have a period of six months or less during which to make well-informed decisions on behalf of watershed residents. A cynic might think this change to the Conservation Authority Act was deliberately designed to hobble the Chair in the execution of their duties.
The Minister has the discretion to appoint a representative of the agricultural sector to be a member of the conservation authority board. There are no further details as to what qualifications this representative must have or who they represent: big agriculture, organic farmers, biodynamic farmers, or family farms. There are also no stipulations as to the type of farming they need be involved in: arable farming, livestock farming, or mixed farming. Perhaps none of these distinctions matter as long as they are friends of political leaders.
The Minister will now be allowed to dictate the standards and requirements for municipal and other programs and services. By what right does the Minister dictate how and what services and programs are delivered when they provide NO funding to support them?
The proposed changes will also limit a conservation authority’s powers to study and investigate a watershed in order to provide programs and services that will directly support the conservation, restoration, development, and management of its natural resources. Instead, their new mandate will be to engage in research and study to support the development of programs and services which have been dictated by the Minister. In other words: in a time of climate crisis, the Provincial government would like LESS and not more scientific data and seeks to direct the research activities of an organization for which it is not funding.
To quote the Premier: “Stick with the job you were hired for…..don’t start pretending” you’re a scientist or a professional engineer “because I can tell you, you aren’t.”
Consequential changes to the Planning Act would bar conservation authorities from appealing a municipal planning decision to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), unless requested through an agreement with the municipality or the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. This tool is a necessary but seldom used tool in our toolbox. This change would also remove our right to appeal planning decisions as a landowner. This is of significant concern to conservation authorities as well as Credit Valley Conservation which owns and manages over 7,000 acres of land for habitat protection, community recreation and flood hazard management. (https://cvc.ca/conversations/conservation-matters)
The new Planning Act would strip conservation authorities of the right to appeal. This means that individuals and developers motivated by profit for themselves and their organizations, which is perfectly legal and acceptable in a free market economy, have greater rights than organizations representing current and future generations of people living within these watersheds. While both food and shelter are basic needs, without water shelter becomes pointless. This legislation could imperil our sources of food and water in order to benefit those who seek to profit from building shelter. We are trading the long-term health and sustainability of our watersheds (which benefits the many) in exchange for short-term profits for developers (the few). A poor bargain by any estimation.
Let’s not have another disastrous short-term decision, such as the one that the Harris government made in 1999 to sell the 407 ETR for $3.1 billion to reduce the deficit ahead of an election. Today the 407 is worth an estimated $30 billion. Imagine the critical transportation infrastructure that could be better maintained and upgraded with the annual revenue generated from the 407 were still in the hands of the government; the new infrastructure that could have been funded, such as the expansion of Metrolinx and Go Transit. Short-term, poor decision making at its finest.
Over the past two years, Ontarians have been subject to a pattern of governance as follows: the appointment and hiring of individuals with few qualifications other than “being a friend of the Premier”, limited understanding of an issue compounded by arrogance and overreach, short-sighted and poorly formulated policies that benefit the few and not the many, dismissal and derision of its critics, shock at public outrage and pushback, eventual contrition and a walking-back of policy changes. Is it not time to break this cycle?
The Premier routinely dismisses so-called “elites” as being out of touch with regular people and therefore unqualified to make policy decisions. But what does he mean by “elites?” Are they not regular people, who through hard work, skill and knowledge obtained through years of experience, and a passion for life-long learning, reached the top of their field? Aren’t these the very people we want working for us? What is the virtue in hiring someone unequal to the task?
Given this government’s poor performance in its autism, long-term care, climate change, and COVID-19 portfolios, how can we accept these proposed changes without further public scrutiny? A government which misleads the people it serves, and routinely circumvents public consultation through dubious means, is neither transparent nor democratic. Such a government requires greater oversight from the people it is meant to serve. MIRANET agrees with The Canadian Environmental Law Association, which has observed “Bill 229 is the most recent in a disturbing trend of using omnibus budget measures bills to make substantial changes to environmental laws, thereby sidestepping the public’s right to comment under the Environmental Bill of Rights.”
Conservation authorities have been the guardians of our watersheds for over seventy (70) years. With little public funding, they have conducted research and provided programs and services to watershed residents. They have valiantly fought to protect the rights of present and future generations to clean air, clean water, and thriving watershed habitats. They are one of Ontario’s great success stories.
We must not allow our Provincial government to curtail the powers of our conservation authorities; they speak for us and the home we live in. It has become patently obvious that our Provincial government does not.
The Mississauga Residents’ Association Network (MIRANET) is concerned that as our planet is teetering on the edge of an irreversible environmental crisis, political actions are putting roadblocks in the way of long-established initiatives to protect watersheds and environmentally sensitive lands. This needs to stop! Schedule 6 has no democratic place in the proposed omnibus Budget Bill 229, tabled by the government of Ontario. The very act of burying it in a 219-page Budget Bill is suspect and appears to obfuscate transparency at a time when all eyes are understandably on Covid-19 remediation. It should be removed to allow for proper consultation with conservation authorities (CAs) and stakeholders.
This blatant appropriation of power does not improve upon the existing Act and will not achieve its stated goal of “amending the Conservation Authorities Actto improve transparency and consistency in conservation authority operations, strengthen municipal and provincial oversight and streamline conservation authority roles in permitting and land use planning.” In fact, the public would be better served by maintaining the status quo.
Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities should not be pulled into political deal making. Since 1992, their legislative power, outlined in the Conservation Authorities Act, transcended municipal and political boundaries to serve and protect critical watersheds and environmentally sensitive lands for the health and benefit of all citizens. 95% of the province’s population lives within these conservation areas. Their mandate needs to be enhanced, not curtailed. Who else will protect our life-sustaining watersheds for future generations? These proposed changes to land-use planning should not become a windfall for developers.
The government is trying to bypass scientists and technical experts for their own short-term political gain. Remove Schedule 6 in its entirety from Bill 229!
Mississauga needs a more comprehensive noise control bylaw
Monday, November 16, 2020
MIRANET has been working diligently to inform residents about its concerns regarding the city’s proposed changes to the existing Noise Control Bylaw. After engaging with the public in January and October 2020, a diverse group of participants in the consultation process (individuals, residents’ associations, MIRANET, business groups, the construction industry, past city councillors, and journalists) were unanimous in their feedback to the city: they wanted less noise. In addition to asking for the inclusion of decibel limits, they asked for the bylaw to reflect the impact of noise on human health. The proposed changes reflect none of this feedback and seemingly led to increasing noise levels instead.
It was unclear what the city hoped to achieve with their changes. The October consultations had technical issues; public input was seemingly ignored; the changes did not embrace the use of modern technology to replace auditory signalling and amplified sound, which would allow organizations to reach wider audiences with minimal noise impact; the use of free decibel level measurement apps was not explored for use in enforcement; there were no proposals for amendments to federal or provincial laws to prevent the sale and distribution of modified mufflers or car audio with settings that exceed the noise threshold for hearing loss; and worst of all, there was no funding to hire additional staff to enforce these bylaws. The entire process was an exercise in mediocrity.
On Nov. 9, MIRANET received confirmation that the city would be postponing its review of the current Noise Control Bylaw, citing COVID-19 and an expanding scope of work needed for the bylaw review. MIRANET applauds both this decision and city staff for recognizing that more work needs to be done. We hope they use this additional time for meaningful engagement with all stakeholders and the development of a thoughtful, comprehensive bylaw. A Noise Control Bylaw that balances competing stakeholder needs, identifies mitigation measures to minimize noise impacts, embraces modern technology, minimizes financial impacts to taxpayers, and supports public health objectives. As residents of a world-class city, we deserve nothing less.
In an opinion piece by the longtime Mississauga News columnist John Stewart talks about the noise heard in the city, and gives a shout-out (no pun intended) to the City’s ongoing Noise Control by-law amendments process.
MIRANET was quoted in The Mississauga News in an article about Short Term Accommodation (STA):
Sue Shanly, chair of the Mississauga Resident’s Association Network, commended the city’s efforts on putting the framework together, but expressed concerns that the operators’ fee was not high enough to maintain the enforcement program.
“It’s big business,” she said. “A lot of short-term hosts make a lot of money and to pay a small fee is just the cost of doing business.”
City Staff have recommended that the current Noise Control Bylaw be updated to address several types of unreasonable or unnecessary vehicle noise. The recommendation reads as follows:
Recommendation 6 – That Schedule One of the Noise Control By-law be updated to include a provision prohibiting drivers from making unreasonable or unnecessary noise: “A person having the control or charge of a motor vehicle shall not sound any bell, horn or other signalling device so as to make an unreasonable noise, or install a modified muffler or exhaust with the express intention to create unreasonable noise, nor shall the driver at any time operate or cause the motor vehicle to make any unnecessary noise or noise likely to disturb an inhabitant of the City of Mississauga.”
While it seems eminently reasonable to have a bylaw limiting excessive motor vehicle noise such as honking, persistent car alarms, modified mufflers, squealing tires, and loud music, it would also be reasonable to have a realistic plan to enforce such a bylaw. However, Staff have identified several obstacles to enforcement:
In order to increase existing service levels to provide Municipal Licensing and Enforcement Officer (MLEO) onsite response and investigation, a significant financial investment is required. The 18 MLEOs currently employed by the City work regular business hours. These hours would need to be expanded to evenings and weekends, which would require the hiring of additional staff (See concern 1 below for further details).
If MLEOs are to have the ability to measure decibel levels of the excessive noise source, capital investments would be required. Given the financial impacts of Covid-19 on the municipal budget Staff are not recommending or pursuing such investments at this time (See concern 2 & 3 below for further details).
In the absence of investment in additional staff or decibel level measurement technology, Staff has recognized that current service levels will not satisfy public demand for greater enforcement services. Instead they have proposed a Priority Response Model, in which urgent Priority 1matters will result in an MLEO on-site investigation within 24 hours (see Table 1 below).
Under the current Nuisance Type Noise Bylaw, MLEOs have no authority to charge motorists. This means that joint vehicle enforcement operations with Peel Regional Police must use the Nuisance Type Noise Bylaw until the new Bylaw is in place.
An urgent matter that requires an MLEO to conduct an on-sire investigation. This is a matter that is outside of the permitted hours. HIGH likelihood of reoccurrence; ANDHIGH impact to residents
Within 24 hours
Construction excavation creating noise outside of permitted hoursCommercial and industrial loading and unloading noise
A non-urgent matter that requires and MLEO to conduct an on-site investigation. It is a matter that is either outside of the permitted hours or an instance of persistent noise. HIGH likelihood or reoccurrence ; ORHIGH impact to residents
Within 5 business days
Noise occurring from a malfunctioning air conditionerPersistent amplified sound from a residence within permitted timesDog barking – multiple complaints from multiple residents
A non-urgent matter that does not require an on-site investigation by an MLEO LOW likelihood of recurrence; ORLOW impact to residents
Letter may be sent out to the subject of the complaint.
An isolated backyard event such as a wedding where a complaint is entered on the following business day.
Table 1: Priority Response Model; City of Mississauga Corporate Report; June 12, 2020; Noise Control Program Review; Geoff Wright, P.Eng, MBA Commissioner of Transportation and Works
If MLEOs are to conduct joint vehicle enforcement operations with the Region of Peel Police, the proposed Bylaw must be amended so that they have the ability to charge motorists.
In order to improve Bylaw response additional MLEOs would need to be hired, for which there is currently no funding.
In order to take decibel level measurements additional equipment would need to be purchased, for which there is currently no funding.
Due to the financial impacts of Covid-19, there is currently no funding, nor will there be any funding in the foreseeable future.
In the interim, the City has proposed a Priority Response Model, for which motor vehicle noise would most likely be deemed a Priority 3. At best “a letter may be sent out to the subject of the complaint” (City of Mississauga Corporate Report, June 12, 2020) provided the complainant has the eagle-eyed ability to capture the licence plate number of a fast moving vehicle speeding away in the night.
While there may be no funding to hire MLEOs, is the deployment of a Peel Regional Police Officer an acceptable alternative? In 2019, the Region of Peel spent $445.6M on policing. This represented a total 17.8% of the Region’s operating budget (The Toronto Star, Nov. 28, 2019; Steve Cornwell). With an increase in violent crime in both Brampton and Mississauga, is this a prudent use of police resources?
The average salary of a Region of Peel Constable, First Class is $117,627; however it could be anywhere in a range of $111,880 to $145,457 (www.glassdoor.ca). That is some very expensive Bylaw enforcement – a case perhaps of penny wise, pound foolish?
Do you feel that the deployment of Peel Regional Police Officers in conjunction with Municipal Licensing and Enforcement Officers (MLEOs) is an acceptable method of Bylaw enforcement?
Would you like the City to provide a cost analysis of enforcement by:
Peel Regional Police AND Municipal Licensing and Enforcement Officers versus
Municipal Licensing and Enforcement Officers only?
The City of Mississauga is currently engaged in the process of reviewing the existing Noise Control Bylaws; the Mayor and Council have given City Staff a mandate to consult with the public, conduct background research, and propose recommendations for change.
Thus far Staff have conducted six public consultations in December 2019/ January 2020 with a number of stakeholders: individuals, Residents’ Associations, business groups, and the construction industry. The three major takeaways from the consultations were:
Everyone wanted less, not more, noise.
The new Noise Bylaw needed to be accompanied by meaningful enforcement which would include the measurement of decibel levels.
Health impacts of each type of noise source needed to be included in developing the proposed recommendations.
The public consultations were followed up with an online survey containing questions which were posed without any context, leading respondents to give answers which were contradictory:
76.1% of respondents voted to ban loudspeaker noise, but
65.4% agreed to exemptions
The poor wording and ambiguity of the questions resulted in a lack of meaningful granularity in the data, or put more simply: “Garbage in, garbage out.” MIRANET has questioned the use of ambiguously worded surveys that produce poor quality data. The creation of surveys and the analysis of the resulting data is a science in and of itself, which is best left to the experts.
The three virtual consultations conducted in October 2020 were less than successful, with two of the three consultations hampered by technical glitches and administrative errors which prevented eager citizens from participating. No explanations or apologies were offered and no consultations were rescheduled.
City Staff intend to present their final report and recommendations to the Mayor and Council on November 18, 2020. We have recently learnt that they will be presenting additional recommendations on this date. This means that the public will have less than one week to review these new recommendations and provide feedback to City Staff and Council.
Throughout this entire process, democratic participation and meaningful public input has been thwarted at every turn. It appears that City Staff is no longer functioning as impartial advisers to the Mayor and Council, but merely the rubber stamp needed to enact their wishes. Taking part in consultations, filling in surveys, giving deputations to Council have all become exercises in futility. Public participation in municipal democracy has devolved into the punishment of Sisyphus, with residents struggling mightily to role a rock up a hill, only to see it come crashing down again.
MIRANET would like to hear your thoughts on the proposed Noise Control Bylaw; so over the next two weeks we will be asking for your feedback on the most ill-conceived recommendations made by City Staff. We hope to provide you with meaningful context for each of these recommendations and will use your responses to get a clear picture of what residents think about these proposed changes.
The Mississauga Residents’ Association Network (MIRANET) held its 2020 annual general meeting (AGM) via a Zoom call on 16 September 2020. Out of an abundance of caution, the MIRANET executive decided that the only safe way to conduct its 2020 AGM was via the popular Zoom videoconferencing software.
The AGM was originally scheduled for April of this year but with restrictions coming into force from March, it was pushed further into the year.
After a call to order and with a quorum, current Chair Sue Shanly read out her report of MIRANET activities in the past year (2019-20). Among notable achievements were MIRANET presentations on secession from Peel Region, submission on Bill 108, review of the City’s and Region’s budgets. MIRANET met with the Fire Chief to better understand and analyze the rationale behind the construction of additional fire stations. In October 2019, member RAs organized a candidates’ debate for the federal election. In December, MIRANET made a deputation to Council and followed-up with a press release and a print article in the Peel Weekly News about AirBnB/ Short Term Accommodation. MIRANET has also been following up and contributing regularly to the City’s attempt at updating the Noise Control By-Law. MIRANET has repeatedly pointed out several procedural lapses and questioned some unnecessary changes.
Following the introduction of candidates, a vote was held. The incoming executive committee is as follows:
MIRANET EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 2020-21
1St Vice Chair
2nd Vice Chair
With input from the RAs, the incoming executives plan to focus on Civic Issues (Bill 108, LPAT, Section 37, and Charter Cities); Budgets (Municipal, Regional, Provincial, and Federal); Social Issues (Housing, Social Justice, Education, and Poverty Reduction); and, Environment and Climate Change.
We are currently gearing up for this year’s Walk the Walk for the Compass, and our amazing volunteers are a core part of what makes the event so special every year. While this year we will be doing a Virtual walk for the first time, it’s still going to be lots of fun!
The walk has traditionally been a great opportunity for Compass volunteers to get together, and though we will not be able to meet up in person and walk together, the virtual walk will allow you to put your Compass shirt on and walk or run your favourite routes. You are welcome to walk by yourself, or sign up your family and create a team. Spread the word, and walk wherever you’d like, indoors or outdoors. The Walk will take place between September 13th and September 19th, 2020 this year, and you can sign up for the Walk today by clicking here https://thecompass.ca/walk/ and register to fundraise online through Canada Helps, or download a traditional fundraising form. This graphic will give you more information on ‘How to Walk the Walk’.
Last year your volunteering, hard work and donations helped us distribute 486,000 pounds of food, serving over 7000 hot meals and 18,000 snacks! We provided 46 children spaces in day camps and 186 backpacks filled with school supplies. Walk the Walk for the Compass helps us provide help for today and hope for tomorrow to our clients.
There are many resources on the Internet on COVID-19. Below, you will find a list of government websites to help you get up to date information at the municipal, provincial, and federal government level.
The Government of Canada has also released an app which will let you receive the latest updates, trusted resources, and self-assess your symptoms. Click here for more information.
These are extraordinary times. We urge you to remain calm, be patient, stay safe, practice social distancing, and wash your hands regularly. We will all get through this by looking out for each other and co-operating with each other.
We are in uncharted territory with the spread of COVID-19. We haven’t faced a pandemic in our living memory, which is what makes the current situation all the more alarming.
It has become clear that
the virus spreads far more insidiously than we expect, and
among the cases that are severe, and lead to fatalities, families have no time to say goodbye or plan for anything once a loved one becomes serious
MIRANET received the following advice from a current paramedic, on dealing with the local impact of COVID-19.
Community members will be essential as caregivers for those infected that remain at home. Hospitals are quickly reaching capacity in Ontario.
A basic understanding of infection control will help prepare our neighbours as they become caregivers.
Dr. Lawrence Loh, Interim Medical Officer of Health at Peel Public Health indicated that masks and eye protection are required for any home caregivers. These can be made by using double layer T-shirts. Bleach is the best cleaner: 1 part Bleach, 9 parts water in small quantities. Diluted bleach has a shelf life of a few days.
As patients become seriously sick, they will rapidly need to be intubated and ventilated. Visitors are not allowed in the hospital.
Staff will be to busy to connect those seriously ill patients with their family members for the final conversations regarding care plans and saying goodbye.
Advance care planning – the difficult conversations – need to happen now. SpeakupOntario.ca is a great website for families and health care providers that will help with these conversations.
We hope you find the above useful. We urge everyone to stay home, practice hand-washing, and physical distancing. Stay safe everyone. We will get through this!
Mississauga, ON: On Friday, October 25, Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark announced that the Province will no longer be pursuing its top-down approach to municipal and regional governance. It will no longer follow through on its promise to redraw municipal and regional boundaries in an effort to find efficiencies and reduce costs. Instead Queen’s Park is making up to $143-million available to municipalities across Ontario to assist them in finding ways to lower costs and improve services. This decision comes after months of consultation and after the province announced cuts for public health care units, child care, ambulance services and others.
Here is what MIRANET (Mississauga Residents’ Association Network) knows so far:
Michael Fenn (former Ontario Deputy Minister) and Ken Seiling (former Waterloo Regional Chair) were appointed in January 2019 to review Ontario’s eight regional municipalities; Peel being one of them. These were paid appointments. How much did these appointments cost the taxpayers of Ontario?
After ten months, 8,500 submissions, and nine consultation sessions with individuals and organizations to find ways to improve municipal and regional government, the Ford government has decided to halt this process and stay with the STATUS QUO. How much did this consultation process cost the taxpayers of Ontario?
Regions and municipalities were left scrambling to respond, many being forced to hire expensive consultants working under tight deadlines to conduct their own analyses of the options. In the case of Mississauga and the Region of Peel almost $1-million was spent ($60,000 for a post card campaign by the Mayor’s Office; a $300,000 impact analysis by Deloitte for the Region of Peel; a $600,000 impact analysis by Ernst and Young). What was the total cost to the rest of the taxpayers across the province?
Ratepayers’ Associations and special interest groups, like MIRANET, had to marshal their limited resources in a short period of time to craft their submissions to the Special Advisers. How much did their time and effort cost?
Does the $143-million being offered by the Provincial Government cover the costs of the consultation process as well as municipal budget cuts which have already been implemented? Also, we would like to see the results of the impact analysis as they may indicate efficiencies and cost savings that could help municipalities now. After all, we paid for this.
This government did not have a mandate to redraw municipal and regional boundaries; nor did it have a mandate to cut public service sector jobs. On the contrary, they promised no jobs would be lost. Perhaps it is time for the Regions and Municipalities of Ontario to renegotiate their legal relationship with the Province? While municipalities are creatures of the province, they are also the engines that drive its economy – any tinkering on the fly could make them seize up and stop working.
On October 10th 2019 the ratepayer groups of Southwest Mississauga (SWMRA) are once again putting on a debate for the upcoming Federal election which is scheduled to be held on October 21st, 2019.
You will have the opportunity to hear the candidates thoughts on how they will improve our Country and our way of life. Use your voice and your vote to make positive changes Federally. Many of you have attended our debates in the past know that they are spirited and the information provided helps us all make a more informed decision on who we want to lead our country into the future.
The Mississauga Residents’ Association Network (MIRANET) is a city-wide network of residents’ associations. MIRANET notes that Bill 108 (More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019) has received second reading in the Legislature. The period for public comment closes on June 1, 2019. More time should be permitted for public input when Bill 108 proposes to amend 13 statutes. We have serious concerns about the Province’s proposed Bill 108.
Economists on all sides of the political debate have authored numerous studies demonstrating that “trickle down economics” is a failure. There is no evidence to support that a reduction in Development Charges (DCs) will lead to more affordable housing. There is no mechanism to ensure that these cost savings will be passed on to the home buyer. Home prices respond to supply and demand. This reduction in DCs is tantamount to an industry subsidy for developers at the expense of the taxpayer.
Mississauga has been developing a comprehensive housing strategy in consultation with residents and stakeholder groups which will utilize inclusionary zoning. This may be negated by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing who will have the power to restrict the City’s Official Plan and override municipalities. Who will benefit? Only the developers.
Municipal taxpayers must not subsidize the highly profitable development industry; we are already burdened enough by the high property taxes we pay. In a free market, Developers must be able to stand on their own two feet. The proposed changes will increase red tape and staffing requirements. The Municipality will be assuming greater financial risks due to the reduced development charge payment schedules. The Municipality must not assume the financial risk if Developers go bankrupt, are sold or move. WILL THE PROVINCE MAKE UP FOR ANY REDUCTIONS IN DC REVENUE?
The community benefit charge could be the most significant of all the proposed changes. In the current Planning Act, “Section 37/Community Benefits” are known as bonus zoning, applying to sites that see height and density increases, beyond current zoning. The Developer contributes a portion of the land value uplift to help off-set the impact of this unexpected and increased development. This puts the amount back into the community that is receiving the extra height/density. The Bill proposes that the term “Community Benefit” include: Section 37 contributions, soft services development charges (e.g. library, recreation and parks, and other services traditionally subject to the statutory ten per cent deduction under the Development Charges Act, 1997); and payment in lieu of parkland dedication.
The legislation indicates the new “Community Benefit” will be capped at a prescribed percentage of the value of the lands, rather than a per-unit type of charge. If the cap reduces what the City can collect, there could be impacts on the tax base or service levels. MIRANET suggests the value of land bears no relationship to the projected number of residents living on that land who will require Municipal services. A Complete Community has parks, libraries, and recreation facilities which make it a liveable community. The Premier’s Bill 108 will deny us these benefits. Who wants to live In a concrete jungle?
The shortened time lines under the proposed streamlined Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) will no longer allow for meaningful public consultation and will generate much greater staffing and resource requirements for the City’s Planning Department. Municipalities are already struggling to meet the current timelines. This will cost more money. WILL THE PROVINCE COVER THESE COSTS?
After years of public and stakeholder consultation, the Province implemented changes to the seriously flawed OMB model, introducing the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) that gives more power to Municipalities and residents. The Province’s new model returns power to Developers. Will Bill 108 have the effect of taxpayers partially funding developments? We certainly hope not.
Does being open for business mean taxpayers are expected to foot the bill? IS THIS GOVERNMENT FOR THE PEOPLE?
The well-respected and longtime journalist John Stewart of The Mississauga News referenced MIRANET in his May 20 column “Can we please have an honest conversation about leaving Peel?” He points out that “MIRANET is concerned about the one-sided focus on taxes and costs while ignoring investments in our future and believes the consultation process lacks transparency and, therefore, legitimacy,”.
MIRANET’s submission to the regional government review was also published in summary form by The Mississauga News. Titled “City can’t pursue separation without informed consent“, it notes that “In the end, the residents of Peel should ultimately be the ones to decide the fate of their region, not councillors or the province”.
On 8 May 2019, MIRANET presented to the Peel Consultation of the Regional Government Review. MIRANET’s remarks and press release are below.
MIRANET’s Thoughts on Regional Government Changes
Good afternoon. We are Sue Shanly and Charlene Haupt from MIRANET–the Mississauga Residents’ Association Network. We are a Network of Residents’ Associations across Mississauga and are here today to voice the concerns of our members about the future of the City of Mississauga and the Region of Peel.
Frankly, we struggled with your brief as outlined in the email invitation. There was no methodology or standard of measurement given by which to provide you with meaningful feedback. Further consultation with the online Terms of Reference was also not helpful.
Is half a day enough time for you to listen to the questions and concerns of a region of over 1 million people made up of 3 different municipalities? You are here today – for a few hours during the day – to decide the fate of an almost five decade old union that has more than tripled in population, created numerous jobs and unprecedented prosperity for all, and is now jointly responsible for billions of dollars of infrastructure which will be around for many decades to come. It takes a lifetime of marriage to form a strong union. A union of two individuals produces shared offspring. It also creates joint liabilities – a house, a car. In terms of the region, this translates to regional services and regional infrastructure. A divorce almost always creates unhappiness and unintended consequences – constant legal wrangling and costs, neglected offspring and broken individuals. The same could happen to the Region should it allow the City of Mississauga to leave.
We are not saying that this union is perfect – there is certainly room for improvement. However, you cannot change something unless you know what is working and what is not. Change for the sake of change may end up breaking something that did not need fixing in the first place.
Lack of Time and Information
Given the complexity of this issue MIRANET feels we do not have enough time or information to make a thoughtful, educated decision. What is the urgency? We have been presented with two reports thus far: the Deloitte Report commissioned by the Region of Peel; and the Corporate Report from the City of Mississauga. Mayor Crombie has criticized the Deloitte Report for “having an agenda.” As citizens of a democracy we are entitled to an unbiased report conducted by a third party.
The Marriage Option
More time for review of the three options is needed: amalgamation, secession, and status quo. Or as we refer to them: marriage, divorce and counselling. Why is the Province rushing the marriage when it will be such a complicated decision? How will this process be any different given the complexity of Toronto’s amalgamation whose negative impacts are still being felt today and which did not create the efficiencies that were expected? The report from the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG) in 2013 concluded that the two-tier option was preferable in terms of costs and ability to govern effectively. The report from the Fraser Institute, a conservative think-tank, published in 2015, concluded that Ontario amalgamations in the 1990’s did not yield any benefits. Not only do we face increased operating costs and therefore taxes, but we also face the potential reduction in the number of Councillors, making it harder for our voices to be heard. At this point we are concerned that we are headed for a shot-gun wedding. And as the old adage goes: marry in haste, repent at leisure.
The Divorce Option
Our second option is divorce, which has been endorsed by the City of Mississauga as outlined in their Corporate Report, which is partly based on information that is 16 years out of date. It is impossible to draw any conclusions supporting divorce based on the information currently available. What mechanism would be put in place to separate capital investments or ongoing liabilities such as waste dumps? Who will be accountable? How will service transfers be decided and managed? What are the contingency plans? How long will the divorce take? Will there be sufficient time for the divorce to proceed in an orderly manner? Is there a dispute resolution mechanism in place? Or will we be contending with utter chaos and mounting legal bills for years to come? We have nothing but questions in search of answers.
The Status Quo Option
The final option is maintaining the status quo. According to the City’s own Citizens’ Satisfaction Surveys (the most recent being 2017) 89% of residents rated the overall quality of life as excellent or good, and 71% were satisfied with the City’s municipal government. The greater issue seems to be lack of dedicated funding from the Provincial Government.
To date we have not seen or been given access to any studies which identify inefficiencies within the current two-tier system of government. If we knew exactly what the problems were, we could then formulate appropriate solutions. Isn’t the simplest option usually the best? Or in other words: it ain’t broke, it just needs some minor adjustments.
Throughout this entire, very short and very chaotic process, three things stand out:
The one-sided focus on taxes and costs. There has been no mention of investments, investments in people. In our democratic society we have all agreed to pay taxes in order that these monies may be redistributed for our mutual benefit. Every tax dollar is an investment in ourselves, in our neighbours and in our future. Every line item within the regional and municipal budgets is an investment in the residents of Peel and Mississauga and in our shared values. We should not just be looking at absolute costs but at returns on investment, something that leading economists the world over are advocating.
This process lacks transparency and therefore legitimacy. We currently have no unbiased information at our disposal, nor do we have any real input into the final decision. We have not been given the yardsticks by which the special advisors will be measuring regional governance, decision-making and service delivery – they were not provided in the emailed brief nor were they provided in the online Terms of Reference. A robust democracy requires access to credible and reliable information, an electorate willing to spend the time to educate themselves on the issues and a government prepared to listen, learn and acquiesce to the will of the people.
The residents of Peel should ultimately be the ones to decide the fate of their region. By this we mean the electorate; this is not a decision that should be left to either the province or our Municipal Councillors where neither has been given a mandate to do so.
Regional Review Consultation Press Release – 8 May 2019
Whether you’re for or against Mississauga’s secession from the Region of Peel, is not the issue. For a decision that could impact us all for generations to come, residents of Mississauga must be given the opportunity to make an informed decision. We need time independent studies/analyses and public consultation in order to make an informed decision. Not one council member, including the mayor or the Premier of Ontario, ran on this platform and thus has no mandate. The deadline that has been imposed on us is utterly meaningless, arbitrary and capricious.
Our elected officials serve at the behest of the people. They need to represent our views in a more democratic way.
We need our City officials to stand up to the provincial government on our behalf. That is their job. We want the Province to slow down this process and provide an independent transparent report to the residents of Peel Region.
~to quote Harlan Ellison
“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”
More than 100 residents from wards 1 and 2 filled the Royal Canadian Legion in Port Credit to hear the City of Mississauga’s rationale for becoming a single-tier entity, independent of the Region of Peel. Other options such as amalgamation with its municipal siblings Brampton and/or Caledon, or staying within Peel Region with efficiency “tweaks”, were not thought by Mississauga Council to be the most fiscally prudent action to undertake.
The feeling in the room seemed to be split with some supporting the City’s stance, while others thought amalgamation would be a better option. Still others thought staying within Peel Region would be more beneficial for our future.
Starting May 2nd the City of Mississauga will start a mail campaign to residents where they can send a postage-paid pre-addressed postcard to the province to show their support for Mississauga’s independence. Many thought that options on that postcard could have been made better simply by including a “NO” option.
Mississauga’s position is based on a report first released by the city back in 2003 but updated this year. Brampton prefers to cite the Region of Peel’s 2019 report it commissioned by Deloitte instead. As a result of March 28 debate at Peel Regional Council, a third financial report is underway involving input from all 3 municipalities and Peel Region, in the hope for its completion prior to the May 22 deadline for submissions. Most agree this is an unlikely outcome.
Regardless of what the report indicates it will probably have no bearing on the final outcome for two reasons: Elected Mississauga reps spoke on residents’ behalf without advance consultation, and ultimately the Premier and his Cabinet can decide our fate without disclosure of recommendations of the Report concerning the Regional Municipal Review.